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Rana's lawyers question Headley's credibility

Amid new disclosures that key plotter David Coleman Headley had scouted an Indian nuclear plant before the Mumbai terror attack and sought an assignment in Kashmir, defence lawyers are questioning his credibility.

world Updated: May 26, 2011 22:29 IST

Amid new disclosures that key plotter David Coleman Headley had scouted an Indian nuclear plant before the Mumbai terror attack and sought an assignment in Kashmir, defence lawyers are questioning his credibility.

Lawyers defending Pakistan-born Tahawwur Rana in a Chicago court here have sought to paint Pakistani-American Headley as a manipulator who used his long-time friend as a mere pawn for the Pakistan based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) group's deadly November 2008 attacks.

During three days of testimony, Headley, who is originally Daood Gilani, has detailed through emails and recorded conversations how Pakistani intelligence and LeT coordinated in planning the attacks.

Headley, who has pleaded guilty to escape the death penalty, testified Wednesday that the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) had asked him to infiltrate Islamic extremist groups while working as an informant.

He later used his relationship with the DEA as a cover for his activities with LeT.

Headley also testified that in addition to attending LeT training camps, he received espionage training from non-commissioned officers in the Pakistani spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

During cross-examination Wednesday by Charles Swift, one of Rana's lawyers, Headley said he had travelled to Pakistan for the DEA in 1999, and continued working with it until September 2002, months after he had begun training with LeT.

Asked about his former wife's warning to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that she believed he was plotting with terrorists, Headley said he told the investigators that he was mixing with extremists as part of a government assignment.

"I had instructions from the DEA to visit those mosques," Headley said.

"So you told the government not to worry because you were working for them, right?" Swift asked. Headley replied, "Yes".

Asked why Headley believed his handler Major Iqbal was from the ISI, Headley said he had met the man on a military base, and saw him travelling several times in military vehicles.

As Major Iqbal was less than impressed with the training he had received from the LeT, he arranged for him to get ISI training.

Headley said the training took place in a small compound near the airport in Lahore. When asked how many sessions he attended, Headley answered, "scores".

Headley also testified that he was not given his favourite Kashmir assignment as the Lashkar leaders wanted to use him for something else, according to court documents released Wednesday.